POE HOPEFUL OF ANOTHER MEETING WITH LACSON

ZAMBOANGA CITY,  April 29, 2004
 
(STAR)
By Paolo Romero — Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. expressed hopes yesterday he would have another meeting with independent presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson that could finally unify the opposition.

Poe at the same time brushed aside criticisms that his latest meeting with Lacson was a dud. Their meeting Tuesday night at an undisclosed place in Quezon City resulted in an alliance of their forces to put up a common front against possible election fraud.

"Well it’s (Tuesday night meeting) a start. I hope we’ll be united against all forms of poll fraud and eventually reach that (opposition unity)," Poe said.

Poe said their 40-minute talk only focused on the possibility that they would be cheated in the elections.

He claimed they did not discuss issues on who would be the lone opposition candidate.

"Maybe it’s because we haven’t seen each other for a long time, maybe it’s just a start," Poe said.

Asked on who could be the possible opposition standard- bearer, Poe said the issue would be discussed in future meetings with Lacson. "Hopefully, whenever that would be," he said.

Poe said Lacson had to cancel some of his appointments to accommodate him for a meeting. Poe described the outcome of the meeting as "satisfying."

"At least we’re communicating," he said.

Poe said the specifics on how both camps will jointly monitor and prevent poll fraud have yet to be discussed.

Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, a ranking member of the KNP executive committee, said despite criticisms over the weak outcome of the talks, the meeting was "okay."

"Let’s give them (Lacson and Poe) a chance," Binay said. "Let’s us not give Malacañang a chance to rejoice."

With less than two weeks before the elections, Binay said the KNP will still focus on Poe’s campaign and go "full steam ahead."

Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos, representing the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) in the KNP, said the coalition will exert all efforts to forge an agreement with Lacson while working for Poe’s campaign.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III, Poe’s personal campaign manager, for his part, said the meeting with Lacson was "a positive step."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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